Like most Land Rover owners, I have always enjoyed a sense of adventure and a real desire to get out and about as often and as far away and as I can in my Defender. Sometimes in order to experience unique and adventurous excursions, you do have to take your vehicle a bit further afield. With that said, over the last eighteen years, I have been fortunate enough to have negotiated bogs, green lanes, rainforests, deserts, beaches, boreen roads, mountain ranges, and glaciers in my standard 2002 Land Rover Defender 90.
I bought my vehicle second hand; it was just two years old when I purchased it. With just 17,000km on the clock, she looked as good as new. She now has nearly 180,000km on the clock with a big proportion of them taking me to some incredible places. During her relatively short life by Land Rover standards, I have been lucky enough to have taken my short wheelbase around Ireland on several occasions, through the beautiful Beacons in Wales, to the base of Ben Nevis in Scotland, around the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic, to Italy, Switzerland, France, over the volcanic ranges and glaciers of Iceland and through the deserts, rainforests, and remote outback of that big dusty rock, Australia. When I moved to Australia, I shipped out my Defender and spent a couple of years working for a number of magazines as a freelance photojournalist including 4×4 Australia which in my view is one of the best 4WD magazines out there.
While working for 4×4 Australia I would often embark on big trips out into the outback and camping wild in some incredible locations, while compiling travel stories for the magazine. The Landy certainly worked hard during its time in Australia and managed to do mostly flawlessly what it was built for. One thing is for sure and that is that I would not have been able to get to some of the remote areas and tackle many of the harsh environments and tracks had I not been traveling in a 4WD.
Since I first purchased the 90 back in 2003, it was my first 4WD and it was the start of a very interesting journey. Over the years I have listened to seasoned tourers, learned from many mistakes while working towards building a vehicle up as a tourer as opposed to an off-road weapon. As a day to day vehicle, my Land Rover has had to bring me to work, ferry the kids from place to place, do the shopping, and all the other day to day functions our primary vehicles have to carry out.
Thankfully it has mechanically served me relatively well over the last eighteen years, though, as most Land Rovers owners know, they do cause their fair share of problems and if I said I didn’t encounter any along the way, well that would be telling a lie. With a couple of issues with the gearbox, the clutch, and some other niggly bits and bobs, my Landy has hobbled home on more than one occasion but thankfully it never left me stranded in the middle of nowhere, though it did come close.
The next chapter
There comes a time for many of us who have owned a vehicle for a long time, in my case eighteen years, when you are faced with the dilemma of whether you want to keep your pride and joy going or move on and upgrade it to something just a bit more modern. For me over the years I have developed more than just a bond with my Landy, and it’s fair to say that I probably have ten times more photos of it than the missus, so in all truth I was never going to be faced with the difficult decision of moving it on. I guess deep down I always knew that my Land Rover would hopefully see me out. But I also knew particularly in recent years that it was getting a bit shook and tired looking and that unless I gave it some serious TLC her days would be numbered.
The decision was made, the 90 was going to be rebuilt and upgraded into what hopefully would incorporate a number of practical additions that would evolve into the perfect touring and camping set up. After contacting a number of our partners we had a huge response all of whom were willing to offer advice and be part of this new build.
The objective here was not just to upgrade the vehicle and give it a face-lift but also to try and salvage what we can. We are delighted to be working with some of the best companies in the business on the build that include, DARCHE, Bearmach, Cooper Tires, Mobile Storage Systems, Nakatanenga, Dinitrol, Raptor (U-PolL), Euro 4x4parts, Eezi Awn, APB, Nokian Tyres and the UK based Mobile Storage Systems.
Over the next nine months, we are going to be documenting the works on the 90, and we will share with you our progress on this exciting build. This build when finished will bring new life to our Land Rover Defender 90 and ensure that it is prepared and ready for the next twenty years of adventures.
We are delighted to be working with some of the best in the business on this build. We will be reclaiming as much as we can but will also be adding some awesome new products that might give you some ideas.